Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Covenants and Complications

This is a script I wrote for my youth group. Standard bible studies weren't really grabbing my kids, and they're fairly theatrical so I decided to make a script of scripture (ha). I made some of these when I was student teacher to cover world religions, and adjusted the idea for my own pastoring purposes. It's heavily influenced by Robert Farrar Capon's The Third Peacock. It's a good way of getting kids to participate in the story of scripture, and also is helpful if you want to cover a lot of ground to give a sense of the flow of the bigger story of scripture. I try to create scripts with lots of different parts so more kids can participate. I also borrowed the story-telling device of having the both a story-teller and an audience present in the script. This idea I lifted from The Princess Bride.

Narrator: Let me tell you a part of our story, least how it’s come down to me. It’s about a party. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth—and all things were balanced and peaceful. The animals and the land were buds with people, and people were buds with people, and people were buds with God. They all hung-out all the time, and it was a party. But then people wanted to run the party, and mucked everything up.

Kam: What did the people do?

Narrator: Well, they stopped being naked—which kind of ruined the vibe. Also, they ignored God’s warning about some bad fruit; which ended up getting them real sick.

Kam: Like the time you ate the Chinese food you thought was a week old, but turned out it was a month old.

Narrator: Yes. Exactly like that. Will you let me tell the story now?

Kam: Go on.

Narrator: So then the people had to leave the party, they were sometimes jerks to one another, sometimes jerks to God, and sometimes jerks to the land and animals—all of people’s relationships statuses changed to complicated.

Kam: That’s a very dated reference.

Narrator: You’re a dated reference! This part of the story is about some of those complications, and what God did to start fixing them. In the way back times, Adam and Eve had a couple of sons Cain and Abel, and they had a complicated relationship.

Genesis 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain: Abel, you no what rules?

Abel: Taking care of sheep? They’re so funny, I love them.

Cain: Sheep are dumb. The dirt is where the good stuff comes from. Watermelons and yams, and apples. Dirt Dirt Dirt.

Abel: Dirt is pretty rad, but sheep are cooler—there’s way more going on with them, more that goes into raising sheep. You got to find the good dirt that makes the good grass that makes the good sheep. More of God’s good stuff goes into sheep—that’s kinda how I see it.

Cain: I guess sheep are alright. I like it simple though. Seed goes in the ground, food comes out. And you can always grow another yam if one comes up all mangled looking and gross.

Abel: What are you bringing God for his party tomorrow?

Cain: Well, I don’t have many sheep. I’ve heard those are his favorite. Sometimes when he starts talking I zone out, but I’m pretty sure he said something about sheep. But I only have like 3 or 4 of those guys. I’m gonna bring him some of my yams. I had a ton of great ones this year. Handsome little guys, such a cool deep orange.

Abel: I’m gonna bring him some lambs. I got some fatty ones I’ve been saving—making sure they ate the best of the grass. They look delicious. God is gonna dig on those.

Kam: Are yams the same thing as sweet potatoes.

Narrator: No, sweet potatoes are white. At least I think that’s the difference. Try not to interrupt. So The next day at Cain and Able went to God’s party.

Abel: And here is my present, I hope you like it.

Father: Sweet dude.

Spirit: Oh, heck yeah!! Lamb!!! My favorite.

Son: Check out how chubby those guys are, they got like 5 chins. Thanks Abel.

Abel: No God, Thank-you. You’re the one who makes the grass grow, I just kinda guided the sheep here and there.

Cain: And here’s my gift.

Father: Well, that’s a creative wrapping job. Did you not have tape?

Spirit: Yams. No… That’s… That’s nice. Thanks.

Son: It’s no sheep, but yeah, yams are good.

Cain: You don’t like it?

Son: Well, it’s just that we always talk about how much we like sheep. We literally told you: “Sheep make the best presents.”

Father: You weren’t really listening last time we hung-out were you?

Spirit: Yams have always been more your favorite than ours.

Cain: Whatever, y’all just like Abel more.

Narrator: Now after the party Cain was bummed that God wasn’t stoked on his gift. Cain pouted and then Cain got angry. He got real angry. Angry with Abel. Cain caught up with Abel after the party. Cain punched Abel in the face. Abel died, bleeding all over the land.

Kam: Wow. That escalated quickly.

Narrator: Yes. Yes it did. When Abel died, his blood shouted up at God.

Kam: Wait. What?

Narrator: It’s a story, deal with it.

Abel: God. Cain killed me. Now my blood is all over the place.

Father: Cain is this true? Did you kill Abel.

Cain: Where’d you hear that? I don’t even know where Abel is. Why did you ask me? You’re always blaming me for stuff. Get off my back.

Son: Dude, Abel’s blood won’t shut up. It’s crying out.

Abel (his blood): AHHH AHHH AHHH I’m  Abel’s blood.  I’m crying out.

Spirit: Cain, you give bad gifts, you killed your brother, and now you’re lying and shifting blame. You need to leave now.

Narrator: So Cain left.

Cameron: Sounds like a lame party.

Narrator: Yeah, the party got lame. When Cain got kicked out he went out and had some kids. His kids were a lot like him. Most of them were jerks, and lied and got mad and killed people. The world became full of jerks. Mostly. There was one dude he was by and large a pretty ok guy, his name was Noah.

Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

Jerks: It’s pretty swell being mean and doing whatever we want and lying and killing. No way we’re ever gonna stop. Being evil is the way to be. EVIL! EVIL! EVIL! (Chanting)

Father: Ughh, people have become a bunch of jerks.

Spirit: They’ve ruined the whole party.

Son: What should we do?

Father: We should start over.

Son: Let’s go back to the just water stage.

Spirit: Well that sucks, all these people and animals will be wiped out. People could’ve been so much better than jerks.

Son: Yup. Lets save some of the animals, they’re still pretty swell.

Father: Oh, and Noah. I like Noah. He still talks to us and isn’t into the whole evil thing.

Father, Son, & Spirit: Agreed!

Narrator: So God decided to flood the world and save some of the animals and Noah and his family.

Spirit: Hey Noah! How’s it going?

Noah: God! Hey man, it’s not that great. It’s getting pretty evil down here. The jerks like being jerks. It’s pretty lame.

Spirit: Yeah, about that, we’ve got some hard news. You should sit down.

Son: We’ve talked about it, we’re going to flood the world and take out all the jerks.

Father: But we’re going to save you and the animals.

Noah: Heavy.

Spirit: So here’s what you gotta do. Build a big boat. We’ll send two of most the animals, and a few more of the others. So after the flood the earth can get back to being a good, peaceful and balanced place—where all of us can be our most creative selves and celebrate with awesome parties.

Noah: Well, I better get to work. Thanks for the heads-up. You’re the best.

Narrator: So Noah built the boat. The animals came. It was snug. God flooded the earth and all the jerks drowned.

Father: Well, that was unpleasant.

Spirit: We’re not doing that again.

Son: Yeah, lets not.

Father: Noah, animals—y’all can come out now, we got something we have to say.

Son: We are making a covenant with you.

Spirit: You meaning people—so your kids and their kids too.

Son: You and all the land, the birds, the cattle, the animals, all the living creatures. This is their covenant too.

Noah: Covenant?

Father: Sorry, let me explain covenant to you—it’s like a treaty. It’s a forever promise that neither side can get out of. Marriage is a covenant.

Noah: Word.

Son: Here’s the covenant: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.

Father: Here’s a symbol of the covenant, so y’all don’t forget. We’ll put it up high so everyone can see.

Son: It’s a bow, like a bow and arrow. Y’all can call it a rainbow. The bow will be pointing up at us because of science. But also because y’all are gonna be jerks again unfortunately, but we’ll take the consequences instead of you. It’s called foreshadowing.

Spirit: A bow pointing up at us is to remind you that we’re in this together, by making this promise—we the creator are making ourselves vulnerable.

Noah: Heavy. Thanks.

Narrator: So God made a covenant with the earth and all it’s inhabitants.

Kam: That was nice of God to include the animals.

Narrator: God’s a very thoughtful person. After Noah people struggled with being jerks again. Some of them stopped talking to God. They stopped inviting him over for parties, thinking that their parties would be more fun without God.

Genesis 11:3-4  they said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

Jerks: Let’s make a name for ourselves! Let’s throw a party where we make a giant fort. It will be even better than God’s party. WOOO!!!

Father: Those jerks are partying without us again.

Son: They don’t really understand how great a party can be with us.

Spirit: How could they? They haven’t invited us to their party in forevers. And they don’t respond our invites… like… ever.

Son: We had this fort-night idea last week, and they didn’t even RSVP, now they’re playing it off like it’s their idea! BAH!

Father: Here’s the problem—if they’re happy with parties that don’t include us, they’ll never see the need to party with us. The whole point of this creation thing was to throw the biggest most excellently epic party ever—with EVERYONE.

Son: Even a good party is no substitute for the best party.

Father: Their parties aren’t even good. They always end with big fights.

Spirit: Let’s crash their party!

Narrator: So God crashed the jerk’s party. He busted up their fort (which really wasn’t all that great) and sent them to other houses. Parties after that were a lot smaller. Some of the jerks became less of jerks, some more. Some remembered to talk to God and invite him to their parties (though most of the time it was God doing the inviting). Most the people in the earth were jerks most of the time. The evil fad was still a thing.

Genesis 12:1-3The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Father: Well, jerks are still jerking.

Son: They’re gonna ruin the whole thing.

Spirit: Again!

Father: Well, we’re in the covenant—so no flooding this time.

Son: Well, let’s keep up on that theme.

Father & Spirit: We’re listening…

Son: Well, let’s make another covenant, but this time with one particular family. Out of that family we’ll make a special people. We’ll give them a special land. And from that special people and land our party will go out to everyone.

Father: Just what I had in mind!!

Spirit: People are prone to be jerks, so if we have a special person, people, and place to show how partying with us is an alternative to being a jerk… Yeah…

Father: I like it. We send out invitations again: this time through one person and so on; that way people who are waffling between being jerks and coming to the party, can see just how awesome it is to party with us.

Son: I think the obvious choice is Abram and Sarai—their always calling us, and texting us to see what’s going on.

Spirit: Their old, but still fun—I love that. Let’s do it.

Narrator: So God went to go talk to Abram and Sarai.

Father: Hey Abram, Sarai, come to Canaan. We want to talk to you there. We’ve got a surprise for you.

Abram: Well, that’s a long ways away, I’ve never been there.

Sarai: There’s all sorts of scary wilderness and jerks in-between here and there, but you’ve never steered me wrong.

Abram: We’re on our way.

Narrator: On the way, God took Abram and Sarai to a special place to talk.

Cameron: Like a coffee shop. Was this like a date?

Narrator: Sure—kind of.

Father: Abram, let’s talk.

Abram: I’m all ears.

Spirit: We are making a covenant with you. It’s special. It has to do with the party.

Abram: We’ve heard you’ve got a big party planned.

Sarai: We’re excited for what you’ve got in store.

Son: We’re gonna have a special relationship with you, but we don’t want the party to be just you and us. We want the party to be for everyone—jerks included—birds, animals, plants—everyone and everything.

Spirit: You’re gonna have a buttload of kids. They’re going to have special land and a special way of doing things. We’ll hangout together there with them so that news will spread and more people will hear about the party, the invites will go out to all the everywhere/everybody. You’re gonna be a big deal.

Abram: Why me?

Father: Because you kept talking to us. You had faith. Faith is a big part of the party we have planned.

Abram: Rad.

Narrator: Later God went back to make the covenant super official.

Father: So, we’re going to formalize this covenant. This is how they do it in these parts: you sacrifice a couple animals and cut them in half, and place them opposite each other.

Abram: Weird.

Father: Weird is in the eye of the beholder.

Abram: I guess.

Kam: That is weird. Like empirically weird.

Narrator: I don’t know what to say, it’s how they did things then.

Spirit: Then the people making the covenant will walk between the two halves of the animals. It’s a way of saying: “If one of us backs out of the covenant, what happened to these animals will happen to me.”

Narrator: So Abram set up the weird ceremony as God told him. But then he fell asleep. Abram was old. While he was asleep he saw God as a flaming torch. Which is a very special thing to have happened. God went between the two halves of the animals, by himself. God made the covenant with Abram, but tweaked the idea of covenant so that the consequences would come back on him. God does things weird, but it’s a pretty and profound weird.

Kam: Profound weird because of Jesus, right?

Narrator: Yes Kam. Profound weird because of Jesus.

A few years later God showed up to Abraham’s house (God changed Abram’s name to something more fatherly, also Sarai was now Sarah). Abraham welcomed him, and Sarah started making some dinner. Abraham and Sarah had gotten super super old by this point. This time when God came, he came as three dudes—a very weird thing to do.

Genesis 18:10—12 Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.  So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Abraham: So God, about those kids. I’m crazy old, and so is Sarah. What’s the deal?

Father: Listen, we’re going to come back this time next year and you and Sarah are gonna have yourselves a little dude running around.

Sarah: (Laughs)

Spirit: Why did you laugh?

Sarah: I didn’t laugh.

Son: Yes, you did. We aren’t joking about this.

Narrator: A year later Sarah had herself a son. She had a real quirky sense of humor and named him Isaac. Isaac means laughter. God laughed when he heard the name. Humor was something they bonded over.

Kam: Awe. That’s sweet.

Narrator: Isaac had kids. They had kids. And those kids had kids. Lots and lots of kids. And some were jerks, some weren’t, but they were all special because of the promise God made Abraham. Abraham and Sarah’s grand-kids still didn’t have a special place of their own: the land God promised them. When food got scarce they moved to Egypt. They stayed there, and eventually Egypt made it so they couldn’t leave. Egypt was being a jerk. Abraham and Sarah’s grandkids became slaves, and wondered about all this covenant business about God.

Kam: Slavery is not a party.

Narrator: No. Slavery is not a party. It is pretty much the exact opposite of a party. But that’s where jerk parties end-up—slavery. So that’s some of story of God’s complicated relationship with people—both the jerks and not jerks (though they’re all kind of jerks a lot of the time, we all are). Complications and covenants, God is always working on his party prep.

Kam: Good story. I liked that you worked in the title at the end there. So smooth